The Alamo isn't San Antonio's sole claim to fame. The 37th-largest TV market is a major medical, military, and tourism center and the seventh-largest market for Hispanic business. Priceline.com even named the city's popular Riverwalk a top holiday destination.
It also helps that San Antonio's economy has rebounded from the high-tech bust of 2001. Home sales soared more than 13% in 2003; the 4.7% unemployment rate is below the national average. Plus, Toyota is building an $800 million truck factory that will create more than 10,000 jobs by 2006.
Economic recovery also hit the TV sector.
BIA Financial Network projects television ad revenue will increase about 8% this year to $166.4 million. "Total spot activity for the market was up about 20% in first quarter, mostly from core business like automotive, retail, and telecommunications," says Brooks Hogg, station manager at Clear Channel's NBC affiliate, WOAI.
The competition for ad dollars and local news is fierce.
In May sweeps, KENS, the Belo-owned CBS affiliate, was No. 1 at 10 p.m. but led WOAI by less than one rating point (total households). ABC affiliate KSAT, owned by the Washington Post Co., was a close third.
WOAI hangs its news Stetson on its investigative unit, the "Troubleshooters." The station's six-person I-team spends weeks developing provocative stories, such as the controversial hiring practices of USAA, the city's largest employer.
KSAT typically cleans up in early news, thanks to a double-barreled lead-in from Dr. Phil
and Oprah. The station scored a 12 rating/23 share at 5 p.m. in May, easily outdistancing second-place KENS (8/14). Fox O&O KABB produces the market's only 9 p.m. newscast.
And because there is a large Hispanic population, the Spanish-language outlets do well. Univision's KWEX, the leader, generated $17.4 million in revenue last year, according to BIA. NBC's Telemundo outlet, KVDA, and Univision's Telefutura affiliate, KNIC, rank among the top 10 most viewed stations.
On the cable front, Time Warner, the primary cable operator, and KENS jointly launched News 9 San Antonio just over a year ago. Penetration stands at 65%.
But what distinguishes San Antonio is the fierce battle for news supremacy. "I don't know of any other market that is this tight," says Greg Derkowski, creative services director at WOAI. "That's what I love about it."